Alexandria Digital Research Library

Individual Liability and Structural Injustice : Constructing Responsibility and Punishment in Poverty Discourse

Author:
Rys, Rachel Ann
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Feminist Studies
Degree Supervisor:
Barbara Tomlinson
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
Publisher:
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
2014
Issued Date:
2014
Topics:
Black Studies, Sociology, Individual and Family Studies, Sociology, Public and Social Welfare, Gender Studies, and Women's Studies
Keywords:
Counter-Discourse
Responsibility
Liability
Punishment
Poverty
Discourse Analysis
Genres:
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Dissertation:
M.A.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2014
Description:

Discussions of personal responsibility are central to conservative U.S. efforts to restructure welfare and restrict the use of public safety net programs. These discourses rely on a neoliberal framing of responsibility as individual liability. In this thesis, I use the tools of discourse analysis to examine how responsibility for poverty is discussed within public and political discourses. In particular, I examine discourses and counter-discourses around Tennessee Senate Bill 132, a 2013 proposal to make families' welfare benefits contingent on children's academic performances. I argue that responses presented in opposition to this proposal rely on the same narrow conceptions of responsibility that are deployed by the bill's supporters. While these opposing discourses ultimately blame different parties, their parallel attempts to identify blameworthy individuals show how the liability model privileges individual responses of surveillance and punishment over structural analyses. This limited framework of responsibility is further reinforced by affective investment and sedimented attitudes about gender and race. I present a material and structural account of poverty in Tennessee as an alternative to these discourses.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (63 pages)
Format:
Text
Collection(s):
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
ARK:
ark:/48907/f3cn7224
ISBN:
9781321202960
Catalog System Number:
990045116350203776
Rights:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Rachel Rys
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